So you can read my books

Thursday, January 31, 2013



    A.  Not the greedy.  Not the dreamy. 

Only those who, day in/day out, write -- even if only a paragraph.  They write.  They are as constant as starlight.

    B. Write because your imagination burns your finger-tips until you put the images, the dialogue,
the stories murmuring in the dark of your heart.

    C. Write because it feels too good not to.  Write for zest and exploration and color and detail.
Write because that is who you are.


    A. You know why so many writers have such great biographies?

Because the best ones never know when to leave well enough alone. They pull up their socks

and yank on their shit-kickers and go out there to face life.

    B.  They pay their dues and take their chances.
They shoot the rapids.

They wrestle the angel. They throw themselves on the
back of the tiger to see where it takes them.

    C. And when they sit down to write, they approach it the same way,

with recklessness and bravado and sheer lust for life.

    D. That’s how they have the stamina and endurance to drag a whole galaxy of readers along with them.


    A. The Walking Dead. 

Those are the majority of the people you pass during your day.

    B. Mind your surroundings.

Those that actually use all 5 senses each moment
of each day have the background of impressions

necessary to evoke the feeling of reality in the scenes they write.


    A.   There is pain in the life of every writer:

the pain of rejection, of isolating yourself from
others to put the words down,

and the pain of growing into a better author.

     B. Those who survive that pain are those who find the black, gallows humor of the struggle.

    C. The publishing industry is nobody’s mommy.

It’s a business, that’s all. And the only way you’re ever going
to succeed as a writer is
by learning to laugh at yourself.

     D. No one has the right to moan about something that everyone goes through. 

Find the humor in it
and help another hurting soul along the way.


    A. Learn to be patient or you will become one.

    B. Life is long and a career in the arts takes the whole of it and even the greats never lived long enough to learn it all.

    C. Hemingway said it:

We will never become masters of writing.  We will only become better apprentices.

    D. It came to you—this extraordinary craft—as a free and unfettered gift,
and you got to own it for just a precious short while. 

Savor it each day, for tomorrow is promised
to no one.


    A. Luck and timing are the twin wings that will lift you up to that window of opportunity.

    B. It is what it is.  Prepare for that moment by ever-stretching your abilities.

    C. That window may not open when you want, but it will open if you are but patient and

    D. You are all you have. 

There are no stunt doubles in writing. 

Make the most of all that you are.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Wendy Morrell brightened my week with reprinting the letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his young sons in 1924:

{It got me in the mood for a spectral Christmas tale,

spotlighting Samuel McCord, the man with the blood of Death in his veins.

DayStar, his Moriarity if you would,

is the being from outside Time itself who has the peculiar delusion that he is Lucifer.

Samuel is the narrator.}

It was Christmas Eve. A lonely church bell was tolling midnight in the silvery distance. Meilori's was dark.

I had sent everyone away. No one but me to die when my Christmas guest arrived.

DayStar has announced his coming earlier that evening:

A dead baby in a manger with the word "Midnight" written in blood on its tiny forehead.

The ceiling speakers murmured the recording of Meilori playing the "Moonlight Sonata."

She had left me with only haunting memories and this one lone recording the night she walked out of my life.

The lights died. The music stopped. I straightened in my chair.

 My last showdown.

It came to every Ranger. Time to face it with courage.

"Hello, DayStar," I smiled.

A tarnished gold voice sneered in the darkness, "Hello, Samuel. Ready to die?"

"I died seven years ago."

"Ah, yes, when your beloved Meilori stormed out of your life. Wasn't she the one who professed, though she were dead, still she would be at your side at the end?"

I watched him shrouded in shadows, just barely making him out. He looked this way and that.

"The end has come and look: no Meilori."

"You're wrong."

I tapped my chest and head. "She's right here and there."

I sensed more than saw him approach my table, the sound of his steps steady, firm and unrelenting.

I heard the chair opposite me being pulled out. I felt as well as heard him sit down in the plush leather chair and neatly arrange his clothes.

"Armani if you are wondering, talking monkey."

"Only the very best for the very worst."

He laughed as if I mattered.

I smiled back as if I gave a damn.

We both weren't fooled.

DayStar’s words were little more than whispers,

"Once the world lived by night.

The dark drew people together. Under its cover, they could feel the need for each other.

But I gave the night to the predators, kept for myself the day so that the living could look into eyes filled with fear and hatred.”

I fought the urge to challenge his delusion. I reminded myself of Jung's warning that challenging the delusion of a madman only made matters worse.

And when said madman had the power to wither a man with just a whisper, making things worse seemed like a poor game plan.

I said low, "You see what you look for.

His smile flashed like a knife from out of the shadows. "You still die alone."

A teen's happy laugh sounded from just outside Meilori's.

Strolling easy through the saloon doors like the wild gypsy he was, Victor Standish laughed as if at the funniest joke in the world.

"Wrong! Boy, would you be lousy on JEOPARDY."

"Victor," I snapped. "You promised me you'd leave."

He flashed me that scamp's smile of his. "And I left. I never said anything about not coming back."

Alice Wentworth solidified beside him, and he stiffened, "You promised to let me come alone."

Her neon-blue eyes sparkled with the burning love that only the young can have.

"And so I let you come alone. But there is nowhere you will go, Victor, that I will not follow. Not even to meet the devil himself."

DayStar laughed as if all his dreams had come true.

"Oh, Samuel, you get to see the young lovers die first."

Victor shook his head, picking up the now living, giggling baby from the manger.

"Sorry to disappoint you, your Hind-Ass. But Mother promised me she'd pass over this place tonight."

His face went as hard as his past life. "You know like she did way back when in Ancient Egypt."

His gypsy's face lit with a grin.

"When your Mother is the Angel of Death, well, let's just say her Christmas presents can literally take your breath away ... or not."

Alice hugged him. I wanted to. Instead I just winked in approval.

And that is how DayStar had his second-worst Christmas Eve.


Happy Midnight.

Elena Solodow of


once upon a time became Orson Welles for me.

She took my prelude to THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH:


turned in a virtuoso performance worthy of CITIZEN KANE or

Welles' radio broadcast of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
with eerie angles and visual effects even.

I, who, like Victor, am seldom at a loss for words --

well, I'm speechless. Elena did a splendid reading.

Elena is now an infrequent poster on her blog.

But once she did Victor proud.  I though those of you who are new friends to my world might enjoy this.

Do not miss her performance of my prelude : THE HELL-BOUND BUS.


That's right. Dare to be bad.

1.) Ernest Hemingway said it:
All first drafts are shit.

He was a genius. And if his first draft was bad, ours will most likely be less than sterling, too.

Which is a relief.

It takes the pressure off us to write that masterpiece right out of the chute.

We know what we write will be bad. Then, with the rough foundation laid, we can get down to the fixes.

2.) The Zen of Writing:
Write in the moment.

Have your goal for the chapter you're creating up on the chalkboard of your mind. See it as a mini-three act play :

One : build-up with tension and foreshadowing

Two : the dominoes fall into place, sometimes flowing into an unexpected pattern.

Three : the bottom falls out of someone's expectations or plans.

With that mini-three act play in your mind write the first things that occur to you.

Flow with the internal logic of your words, set your sail with the mood of the winds of your muse and travel across your fictive world.

3.) Finish Your Vegetables:Complete your chapter -- hopefully with a cliffhanger.

(You do not want to give the agent a convenient stop point. Make her want to turn the page and keep on reading into the wee hours of the morning.

If she can't stop reading, she will feel that the publisher and reader will not be able to stop either.)

4.) Bad prose is just a problem to be solved.
Every prose problem has a solution. Perhaps not a perfect one but an improvement of your earlier prose.

Look at your finished chapter. Correct what mistakes you see on the computer monitor. Print out the chapter.

Read it silently, correcting as you go. Read it aloud.

Slash through clunky sentence, writing the improved version above it. Read it aloud, listening to the flow of the words. Is there lyrical magic to them?

No? Read them again, slashing as you go. Try to see if you can make the mental images clear and vivid in your mind. It can be done. Sometimes simple prose is best.

Write the simplest version of the trouble sentence you can.

Write the first words that come to mind. Like the first answer to a difficult test question, it will more than likely be the right choice.

5.) Every prose pothole you stumble across can be fixed.
You don't have to be a genius. You don't have to be Pulitzer Prize material.

You just have to care ...

about writing at your highest level.

about how people interact and how they hurt and heal one another ... sometimes one act right after the other.

You're a writer.

You've observed people around you. You've reflected upon your own words and actions on the job, at play, and at home.

Use those observations to lend depth to the interactions in your novel.

6.) Put Tab A into Slot B:A frequent agent complaint is that your story doesn't hold together.

What does that mean any way?

It means the individual parts don't fit.

At the start of writing your novel, write what you believe will be your last chapter. Tie up all the loose ends you plan to dangle along the course of your narrative.

Present your protagonist, having learned all the hard lessons he picked up in the heat of the crucible. Have him admit to his failings of the past. Have him stand proud and laughing or silent, strong, and humbled by his hard-won wisdom.

Then, using this chapter as a guide, write your first chapter. Show the flaws in your protagonist that have been mended in the climax. Spotlight the areas where growth is needed, especially the ones to which your hero is blind.

Introduce the theme of your novel : Love makes lust seem pale and unsatisfying. Life is more than success. True friends are your real wealth. Family is the yin and yang of life, both pain and healing.

As you write the meat of your novel, keep your creative eye on both of these chapters to time your pacing, tension, laughter, foreshadowing, and ultimate victory.

*) If you dare to be bad, your novel will be very, very good.***

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We are standing on the threshold of something that befalls every person,

               every civilization,

                        but with each at a different cost.

We move through the moments but are far them.

                        And as the night descends, it feels as if I am leaving home.

                I am swept up in a sense of the missed opportunity, the lost chance, the closed door.

                      Barnes and Noble is set to close
                                                         hundreds of stores soon

  Publishers are on a crash course learning how to survive without any volume booksellers,

and in an environment with one retailer (oh, guess) representing as much of its business as

 — well, who knows? Eighty percent? More?

That alone is likely to make publishers give up on printing books —

there’s no sense in printing books if your main outlet isn’t going to order any until they sell them — and join the digital “revolution.”

But the digital revolution is facing its own inertia:

Surveys say “showrooming” — seeing a thing before buying it —

is an integral part of buying books online. One survey reported that 40% of the people who buy books online looked at them in a bookstore first.

A New York Times report by David Streitfeld two weeks ago took the notion a step further.

Noting that “the triumph of e-books over their physical brethren is not happening quite as fast as forecast,”

Streitfeld floated the idea that this may be due to the “counterintuitive possibility …

that the 2011 demise of Borders, the second-biggest chain, dealt a surprising blow to the e-book industry.

 Readers could no longer see what they wanted to go home and order.”
Got that?

The closing of bookstores selling print books may also be hurting the sale of ebooks.

The only logical conclusion one can draw from all this, of course,

is that if B&N goes down the entire industry is facing rough seas.

Booksellers, publishers, authors, agents, librarians, and oh yeah, readers …

 B&N’s scorched earth policy of the 1990s , under-selling the indie bookstores,

has ultimately left us with,
well, scorched earth.

If the book industry is going to survive it, it’s going to take some real revolutionary activity, indeed.

What do you think?


The small palms by my poker table hissed through the shadows of Meilori's with their flaying leaves.

The ghost of Julie London swayed by on her way to the stage.

She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again like a theatre curtain.

The ghost of Raymond Chandler took a sip from his glass. 

"I know that trick, kid. That was supposed to make you roll over on your back with all four paws in the air.”

"Woof," I said.

Mark Twain chuckled, "God created women so that Man would learn seeing ain't always believing."

Stephen King smiled, drawing a card.  "And why was Man created?"

Roger Zelazny snorted, "So Taylor Swift would have lyrics to her songs when she broke up with one."

Hemingway puffed on his cigar.  "My NaNo post did well last November, didn't it?"

Roger nodded.  "Surprisingly so since you nay-sayed their dream of slapping a novel together in a month."

Hemingway said, "Dreams alone won't fill libraries."

Roger looked off into the darkness. 

“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.”

Mark puffed on his own cigar. 

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

Chandler sighed,

"They are wasting a month hurrying a novel when they should be carefully crafting one.  But there is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

Roger nodded, "I always forced myself to sit down and write five pages each morning.  Then, each evening I would slash and hack those pages down into three."

He smiled sadly to me.  “No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words.”

William Faulkner murmured,

"Memory believes before knowing remembers.  Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders."

Roger Zelazny tapped his cards against his teeth.  "Perhaps. Here's a tip for you, Roland.

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something,

which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -

you just don't know which.

You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself.

Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.

Trust your demon.” 

Stephen King laughed softly,

"I always do. "

He turned to me.  "Roland, books are the perfect entertainment:

no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent.

What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” 

An evil gleam shined in his eyes behind his glasses.  "While we're giving tips to you.  Here's a few:

 “Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.  Learn the strip-tease delay of good fiction, revealing as you go along.  Great fiction is the truth within the lie."

Chandler took a slow sip of his drink. 

"It all boils down to your hero, kid.  He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.

He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor --

by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a hero at all.

He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job.

He will take no man's money dishonestly and no man's insolence without due and dispassionate revenge.

He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks -- that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.

The story is the man's adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure.

He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”

"What about women heroes?" I asked.  "Ada Lovelace created the first computer program 100 years before the invention of the computer. 

Abigail Adams healed the rift between two U.S. Presidents. 

Alexandrine Tinne was a Dutch explorer who made the first female attempt to cross the Sahara.

  Aletta Jacobs was a Dutch doctor, a feminist, a pacifist, and a human rights activist."

Chandler smiled crooked, "That was then.  Now, we have Taylor Swift."

The ghost of William Faulkner shook his head. 

"That is your cynicism talking.  Roland, always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” 

Mark Twain lit another cigar.  “What would men be without women? Scarce, Roland...mighty scarce.” 
Stephen King gently smiled at me.  "As with all creation, Roland, it begins with the Word.  But it must be the right word in the right way at the right time."

He looked away from me, and his eyes darkened as if he looked within himself. 

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them --

words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out.

 But it's more than that, isn't it?

The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried,

like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away.

And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way,

not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it.

That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.” 

All became silence.  For a time, my friends and I were lost inside our own secret hearts.

Monday, January 28, 2013


File:Wiktor Michajlowitsch Wassnezow 004.jpg
{Image by Viktor Vasnetsov in public domain}




Those are the signposts you keep in mind when writing your

one paragraph summation in your queries.


Yes : BAD ... WORSE ... WORST. They are the 3 keys to writing a GOOD one paragraph summation for your query.

I.) Think Three Act Play :

Act I. Bad (First Sentence)

You introduce your character and set up the conflict.
Conflict being the goal that is desperately desired and the adversary who stands in the way.

Act. II - WORSE (The next three sentences.)

Each sentence details a disaster derailing the progress of your main character and the victories of the adversary. Each disaster gets progressively worse.

The sentence of the first disaster contains the MC's decision which sets the disaster into motion. The sentence of the 2nd disaster contains some small victory for the MC that is destroyed by the sudden turn in fate. The sentence of the third disaster contains the seeds of the final confrontation between the MC and the adversary.


The final sentence contains the final confrontation and its resolution.
If you don't detail in full the resolution,

you should at least give definite hints on how the story ends with the MC triumphing over the adversary -- even at the cost of his/her own life.

II.) Polish this paragraph until it flows like the narration to a movie trailer.

III.) IMPORTANCE of this paragraph summation :

This paragraph is the skeleton of your thoughts as you write your novel.

Go back to it often and check to see if it matches the story you're writing.
a.) If not, no big deal.
b.) Just revise your paragraph accordingly.

You will not become bogged down if you have this paragraph as your guide and map to chart your course through your chapters.

IV.) This paragraph has to be intriguing and persuasive.

A.) The agent will most likely decide to reject or ask for more from this one small paragraph.

B.) This paragraph should probably contain that all important hook, without which most queries are immediately rejected.

C.) Reading this paragraph like the voice-over to a movie trailer will help you in deciding what that all-important hook should be.

D.) A well-written one paragraph summation will provide the outline for your one page (single spaced 500 words) synopsis.


Dear Mr. Wonderful Agent :

Re-imaginings. Have you ever looked at your image in the mirror and thought does the world I know exist for this copy of me? Or beyond that reflected corner is there a more magical, lyrical, dangerous world?

Thirteen year old Victor Standish lives in such a world.

There are strange tales told by the vagrants of the French Quarter when the midnight hour tolls. The hours fade as the shadows creep closer. The tales are not to amuse, but to keep weary eyes from closing.

For the creeping shadows are hungry.


Thirteen year old Victor Standish is repeatedly abandoned and picked up by his unpredictable mother. He learns “free running” and other skills a boy needs to survive the mean streets.

Victor finds New Orleans brings "mean" to a new level: the supernatural level. A mysterious Jazz club owner takes him in. Victor learns the Jazz club is actually the Crossroads of Worlds ... and the owner has the blood of Death in his veins. They both find love and adventure as Hurricane Katrina approaches.


The undead Abigail Adams marshals her forces to repel the Shadowland invasion led by her European counterpart, Empress Theodora. While the jazz club owner tries to keep the French Quarter safe, Victor falls in love with the British ghoul, Alice. His “ghoul friend” he calls her.

Between Victor's wits and Alice's strange abilities, they save the jazz club owner from Theodora and Abigail Adams.

Joy turns to dread when the Angel of Death arrives at the door of the Jazz club to claim him. Victor does not understand why he merits a visit from the Angel of Death. But to save his new family, he faces her.

He discovers she is no stranger. And he understands why the Angel of Death has come to pick him up ... again.

She is his mother.

Thank you for reading my query. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript. I hope that you find some gem in the flood of submissions that pour your way. May your New Year hold only happy surprises with some relief for punished eyes and swamped workloads.

Roland D. Yeomans M.A.

{The pitch section is exactly 300 words (a half-page single-spaced) Altogether it is approximately 400 words.}

*) I hope this helps in some small way when you are writing your queries and your novels. Your friend, Roland



So said Mark Twain to Samuel McCord about Meilori.

You can tell how thrilled Sam was with the remark.

Mark could have been talking about agents.
I've done my share of talking about them when I've a received a rejection ...

when they cared enough to email me one.

Some of you have emailed me, expressing dismay that dealing with agents meant selling yourself.

Many think that means selling yourself out. And two friends have expressed thinking that perhaps writing was not for them.

Whoa! They are both excellent writers.

And if they think it, perhaps others out there do, too.

I don't want that.

Every good fantasy out there whets the appetite for more of the same. Besides they are both good friends.

I wrote them back, and I'm posting a generic version of that email here:

As writers we wear many hats during the course of the journey. As much as it irks me, in query letters I must go from artist to ambassador. Ambassador of the world I have created. I want to do it justice to the "court" of the agent I am approaching.

To do that, I must speak the language of the court I address. The language of agents is "self-interest." Many of them believe in the "win/win" concept. They help you as you help them.

Sadly, many people are only as good as their options. The agents hold the power. And it is true that some people are not good at handling power.

It goes to their heads. They vent their natural bent towards cruelty and pettiness to those who cannot defend themselves or retaliate in any meaningful way.

Thankfully that number is few. But you're right, those few do vicious damage to our hearts and spirits.

And due to Google Search, those burned by them hesitate to speak their names on the internet.

Most agents are just overworked. Not mean or petty. Just impatient, reading with half-listening eyes.

How many times have you been looking for an item while fatigued and have your eyes pass right over it several times before spotting it?

Agents are like that. Sadly, they glance over our query letter only once.

If they miss that what we have is what they really want, they do not re-read and pick up on that. They just miss it.

The galling thing about rejections is that usually you are given no reason. Wrong genre? Wrong voice? Too sluggish? Too fast-paced?

Beta readers are just outsiders like you, looking in through the window at the world of the published authors.

And published authors will tell you:

it is a matter of chance that determines if your quality is recognized.

The quality has to be there, of course.

But it is a crap shoot if your excellent writing slips through the window of opportunity to get its chance to dance in the spotlight of an approving agent's and accepting publisher's attention.

That realization, instead of weighing us down, should free us. The world will turn as it will turn. The tides come in on their own schedule.

It is only up to us to walk as best we can, handling the reins of our lives with wisdom and courage.

Realize we are ambassadors to a self-interested system, learn its language, and present ourselves and our world with wit, humor, and the calm confidence that The Father has our back.

And our friends, of course. As I am friends with all those who visit my blog and exchange comments with me.

And the literary world is what it is.

Self-Publishing is a growing but still small part of publishing. E L James sold many self-published copies of 5O SHADES, but it was only when she was picked up by a PRINT PUBLISHER that her book soared and her fame was sung by magazines and new agencies. 

In the world of print publishing, alas, we writers still need agents, though I have read some experts say not. They are mistaken.

Here's why:


In other words, in this busy publishing world, editors no longer have time to read unsolicited queries. Bottom line : you won't get read; you will get a form rejection.


You submit to a publisher. He whips back a form rejection. A miracle happens, and you get an agent. Professional courtesy says that agent can't submit your novel to even another editor from that same publishing house. Your agent tells you that you're #1 with the wrong finger. You just made his job that much harder.


Another miracle happens. A publisher buys your book -- and a worse deal you would be hard-pressed to find. An agent would have gotten you a higher advance and royalties. Even if you sense you are getting a raw deal, the editor knows you have nowhere else to go.


If one publisher liked your novice unsolicited manuscript enough to buy, others would have, too. You will never know how much you could have gotten. Unlike an agent, you didn't have the contacts to arrange a bidding war for your novel. And the editor probably didn't even give you a jar of vaseline.


Stick your head out the window. See those vultures? They're drawn to that dead thing you call your "miracle contract." More than advance and royalties, there are other crucial items to consider like:

1) Translation rights.
2) Audio rights
3) Movie and TV rights.
4) Book Club rights.
5) Timing of your advance payment.
6) Bonus clauses.
7) Option on your next book.
8) Hear the hooting and laughter in the hallways. That's the sound of the editors laughing at your expense.


 Without an agent, you will have to negotiate for a higher advance, those nit-picky contract issues you never saw coming, requesting a catalog copy, screaming about the stick figure drawings they have for your jacket art.

Guess what? The Pavlov effect kicks in very quickly. The editor hears your name and scowls, a sour feeling pervading his whole chest.


That's where your agent comes in. Editors expect agents to be combative. It's in their job description. They are your ambassadors. They allow your relationship with the editor to be purely on creative and editing matters. A healthy environment ensues.


It is what it is in publishing : a madhouse. Each editor usually has 20 to 30 authors in the pipeline. Yeah, that's a lot of pipe! You don't have an agent? Great.

Great for the overworked editor. He knows which novel to place at the bottom of the priority stack. See your novel buckling? It's got the bends.


See your stressed-out editor? No? That's because he just quit. What?

Oh, don't look for any of the other editors to adopt you.

No, they're busy gobbling up your editor's former resources like publicity money, marketing assets, and the dozen other publishing department time slots that are temporarily freed up.

You don't have an agent? Then, expect your book to be canceled faster than Tiger Wood's marriage license. Or placed so far down the pipeline, it would have been better for it to have been canceled so that you take it to another publisher.


You, however, don't have an agent. You can be shot. And if your first novel doesn't perform well, (and very few first novels do,) you will be shot ... out of the publishing house so fast there will be a sonic boom.
All those experts that write that you don't need an agent hopefully mean well. But they are mistaken. And there are some great people out there I would be happy to have as friends, much less agents. Think Kristen Nelson

Not that she accepted any of the four queries I sent her for FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, RITES OF PASSAGE, THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS, or LOVE LIKE DEATH.


But she did write me a personal rejection. Sadly, no direct mention of what was wrong or how to correct it. But read her blog, and you will discover that she is nice people.
And for a little flirty fun tune to keep the wind at your back :

Sunday, January 27, 2013

THE SECRET TO SIN_Samuel Clemens, ghost, here

{"A sin takes on a new and real terror

when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out."

- Mark Twain

("The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg")}

Samuel Clemens, ghost, here. 

Alex Cavanaugh has been so kind to Roland over the years

that I thought I would help him out in an area that seems to cause all of you folks trouble:

The secret to sin ...
Or should I say ...
The secret to a synopsis.

Ain't that the dangedest name?


Sounds like one of them ancient Greek philosophers, don't it?
And I know many of you would rather kiss an ancient Greek
than have to write one of those dang things.

But I'm going to show you how to do it as smooth as easy as a politician's lie on election day.

Doubt me?
Which one of the two of us is the beloved literary genius here?

1) And that above was my first rule in writing a great synopsis:
Sure, there're a lot of you reading this. But I'm only talking to one of you in my mind. Heart to heart. Like we're sitting at the same table in the dark.

No one-size-fits-all with your synopsis.

Tailor your synopsis to the requirements stated by the publisher/agent. No guidelines given?
Well, that leads me to the next rule :

2) This, too, shall pass ... like a kidney stone.
Short means no short tempers.

Ever have the misfortune to ask a pilgrim how his day's going only to have the fool actually tell you ...
in agonizing detail.
 Be short. One page.

Yeah, I hear you groaning.
But the agent/publisher doesn't want all your story.

She just wants the gist of it, to know that your story has a start, a middle, and a for-sure ending (not just a hope and a prayer.) You're still groaning.

3) This tape will self-destruct in thirty seconds, Jim.
And so will the agent's interest. You have thirty seconds at most, children, to grab that agent and pull her into your story. That's a half page at most.

Can you squeeze your 400 page novel into three lines?

Can you make them convey why your story is unique and absorbing, detailing background and characters?

Sure, and after that, you'll establish world peace.

But you can squeeze your novel into a half page. How?

4) go to
Type in GONE WITH THE WIND. Look at their short version of it :

A manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Do those words sing? Do they capture the magic, scope, and heartbreak of the movie?

No. They just lie there without life or spark.

Well, put a little spin to them :

My novel is the saga of a selfish woman who doesn't want to admit her feelings about the man she loves, and she finally loses him.

How about tuning up the synopsis in three sentences?

GONE WITH THE WIND is the epic tale of a woman's life during one of the most tumultuous periods in America's history.

From her young, innocent days on a feudalistic plantation to the war-torn streets of Atlanta; from her first love whom she has always desired to three husbands.

She survives going from the utmost luxury to absolute starvation and poverty and from being torn from her innocence to a sad understanding and bitter comprehension of life.

Are you beginning to see how you might be able to pull off the half page synopsis?

5) In my end is my beginning:
I got your attention with the title of this post, didn't I? Well, that is the secret to selling your synopsis.

You have to grab that eye-weary agent by the imagination and shake hard. Start with a one sentence paragraph.

"Samuel Clemens had been dead all of thirty seconds, and he already hated it."

Got your interest, didn't it? How about :

"The situation was hopeless but improving." Another imagination grabber.

6) Last Words:
Is your summary unique and "This is really something!"

Do you include the punch line to your joke? No holding back to tease.

If the agent presents an unfinished turkey to her editors, she gets her hard-earned reputation bruised.

Is your novel in the genre the agent handles?

Her list of agents is genre specific. If she handles techno-thrillers, she doesn't know one editor who would be interested in your Western.

And worse, you've shot your ounce of good will with that agent.

Agents are tired, impatient, and lovers of order.

Agents want your synopsis to be laid out in three orderly paragraphs.

Short ones. Easy on the eye ones.

Any more paragraphs, any longer, chunkier ones scream unprofessional rookie to them.

And they don't have time to be your mentor. They want a partner not a pupil. You are not in the remake of THE KARATE KID.

Here listen to one of my favorite living writers
(I sometimes stand over his shoulder and read his pages a'fore they hit the printers!)


NaNoWriMo + CreateSpace: See your novel in printfor free.


Only one day to submit your entry to ABNA 2013:

But the greatest novel ever written will not win it UNLESS YOU WRITE A WINNING PITCH.

Think on these things as you write your 300 word pitch


     A. Think Log Line

     B. Think a 3 stage log line:

          1.) a single sentence that includes the following:
  • The hero
  • The hero’s flaw
  • The life-changing event that starts the story
  • The opponent
  • The ally
  • The battle or conflict
          2.) The character who changes in an arc -- and what those changes are.

          3.)  A sentence about the book’s theme.
                a.) What does the character learn?
                b.) How does he or she change?


     A.  No one wants to listen to a rambling explanation or outline.

     B. They want to know one thing: does this book sound like something I want to read?

     C. An agent wants to know that plus two other things:
          1.) is this the sort of book I can sell and

          2.) does the pitch make it sound as though this is not just a good idea
               but also a satisfying whole?

     D.) For that, the best pitch is short, sharply-focused and
           recognizes what makes a book sound compelling.

     1. Take your main character (MC) and give him/her an epithet -- vengeful werewolf, desperate single mother…

     2. Identify the MC’s central mission/problem/fear and what he stands to lose if he fails.

     3. Brainstorm words and phrases that your book conjures up, including themes, moods, actions.

     4. Pick the 25-30 that sound most compelling.

     5. Fashion those ingredients into a tight, heart-tugging 300word pitch.

     6. Include strippers.  (Just checking to see if you were paying attention.)

{What if your book has no strippers?

Well, there are dozens of other things that tug heart-strings:

sex, power, fear, obsession, madness, lust, love, pain, loss, grief,

 tigers, magic, witches, horses, corpses, poison, murder, torture,

 betrayal, struggle, disability, terrorism, war…

You get the picture? Focus on the must-read factors of your book. Make up for the absence of strippers.}


Lizzy Invisible (SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR):

 Supporting her seriously-ill brother and mentally challenged sister by being a stripper, Lizzy feels crushed by invisible chains.  

In fact,she feels invisible. 

Imagine her shock and dismay when she discovers that she’s literally vanishing!

How is she going to support them now?  What will happen to her when she disappears completely?

What is causing this?  And is there any way to stop and reverse this?  She is at her wits' end.  

Then, the women in black move in across the hall  -- the women with no eyes.

This is your last chance to enter!  I hope this post helps.